For 65 years, the Muscular Dystrophy Association enlists fire departments across the country to aid in MDA’s Fill the Boot campaign, which helps kids and adults with muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases live longer and grow stronger. 

Members of the New Braunfels Fire Department and Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 3845 will be at city intersections Wednesday through Friday, soliciting donations from pedestrians, motorists and passers-by.

“We will have 132 firefighters from the city’s six fire stations out on the streets in their respective districts,” said Chris Stevens, NBFD firefighter engineer. “Hopefully, the crews will go out in the morning and then go out again in the afternoon.”

The Fill the Boot program began with a New Jersey firefighter helping a friend whose sons had muscular dystrophy. He scoured streets seeking cash donations for the MDA, storing the funds in his firefighter’s boot.

According to its website, the MDA is a nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular diseases. It funds worldwide research, provides health care services, and helps those battling neuromuscular diseases.

NBFD enlisted all hands in Fill the Boot following the 2012 death of former member Gloria Herfurth to ALS, a form of muscular dystrophy. Last year’s campaign raised $46,775 for local research, life-enhancing programs, support groups and care centers such as the MDA Care Center at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center. Donations also send local kids to MDA summer camp – Camp Aranzazu in Rockport – at no cost to their families.

“We are thrilled to be working with the New Braunfels Fire Department for another year of Fill the Boot to help provide the funds needed to find treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that severely limit strength and mobility,” said Patrick Isenberg, MDA’s San Antonio-area executive director. “The dedication of these fire fighters to MDA’s mission is unwavering. 

“The tremendous support our families receive from the New Braunfels community is a reflection of the firefighter’s relationship with the area.”

The International Association of Fire Fighters, comprised of more than 300,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics in 3,200 affiliates throughout the United States and Canada, has been active in the MDA effort since 1955, when it raised $100,000. By 1970, IAFF members had raised more than $1 million. Last year’s total – involving 100,000 members – raised more than $20 million.

“We’re doing this for the community and for everybody in South Central Texas,” Stevens said. “All of the donations stay local, providing money for research, new medications for kids receiving diagnoses, and the money to send them to camp in Rockport. For one week they’re able to do things they’re not normally able to do.”

Look for firefighters near these intersections: Loop 337 and Interstate 35; State Highway 46 and Farm-to-Market Road 1863; near Buc-ee’s at FM 306 and Creekside Crossing; Walnut Avenue and Business 35; Seguin Avenue and Interstate 35, and Walnut Avenue and Loop 337. 

“The firefighters will remain close to their stations and respond to any fire or medical calls in their areas,” Stevens said. “The citizens of New Braunfels have contributed an amazing amount through the years – we couldn’t do it without them.”

For more, visit the MDA website, www.mda.org.

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